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Poster: elkdog Date: Apr 17, 2011 6:49pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Musical clarity, simplicity, and Garcia's late 60s improvisational style

Thanks for this post. I largely agree, and can't really match your eloquence. Posts like yours are one of the best things about online deadhead communities. Seriously. Thanks.

I was listening to 10-12-68 a couple of days ago and marvelling a bit at how simple Jerry's playing was, while still incredibly effective. I subscribe to the "Jerry peaked in 1982" school, and find his lyrical playing more engaging and inspiring for my own playing than the earlier pentatonic stuff. Jerry had such a fluid way of playing over the chords on 1st set tunes, and that's been a real focus for me lately. But the earlier stuff is still mighty compelling.

You're spot on with the connection between fusion-era Miles and those extended PITB's. When it works, it's absolutely amazing.

I tend to think that Jerry was afforded the luxury of exploring dynamics the way he did by the Dead's cutting edge sound system. Earlier (up to 1970) recordings show a tone not entirely unlike the Allman Brothers (though a sense of sonic space beyond what the ABB sought is audible in 1969 for sure), whereas the later shows feature not only more harmonically nuanced songwriting and playing (which latter I suspect was Phil's doing as much as anyone's), but a more spacious soundfield which allowed Jerry to explore clean tones, and to develop that marvelous, less-overdriven style of his that shaped his playing from then on out. What do you think of the technical side of things as a reason for the change in Jerry's playing? As a bluegrass guy, it seems like he may have been looking for the opportunity to play more chordally/with a wider vocab, and that the evolution of the Dead's sound system let him sound better doing that, whereas pentatonic playing kind of begs for the distortion that is, frankly, simpler to produce than immaculate clean tone. Was he playing to the capacity of the sound?

This post was modified by elkdog on 2011-04-18 01:43:27

This post was modified by elkdog on 2011-04-18 01:49:39

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Poster: deadpolitics Date: Apr 18, 2011 1:36am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Musical clarity, simplicity, and Garcia's late 60s improvisational style

I'm currently on a mission back to 1982 to see what is going on. What I'm hearing is a snappy Jerry that can shred and wail and cry. Consistency is not a strong suit though.

I think my favorite years for Jerry's guitar playing have got to 75-76 with JGB. But I'm more of a Grateful Dead fan than a JGB fan because of the incredible dynamics and lush arrangements. As has been said before Jerry really liked being "set up" during his solos, playing off the band. You see this tendency come out very early in their history. Stayed true for a long time, except those nights when Jerry was in his own world...

While technological innovation was very important in the GD developing their sound, I think it is the band chemistry and individual yet complementary talents of the members that is more directly related to Garcia's use of dynamics.